I’ve been living in rural Louisiana for the past six weeks and folks down here are loving rapper Plies’ new album The Real Testament. He’s got a bunch of singles on the radio right now but the song that’s really made an impact on me is “100 Years,” the video of which is posted below.
The song hits home because here in the small town of Tallulah, Louisiana, the community is fighting to turn a prison that was placed in the heart of the Black neighborhood (literally a couple of blocks away from the local junior high school and less than a mile away from the local high school) into a community college that will provide job training and certification skills to the largely impoverished community.
The prison industrial complex is grimy and disgusting across the nation, but it is somehow even more clear here in the South how systematically Black folk and people of color are being herded into the prison system because the system has deemed them an “un-needed” population that needs to be put somewhere out of sight and out of mind. And also to profit off of.
The pain and frustration is felt in Plies gravelly voice and words. Furthermore, he has sponsored a contest in which fans with incarcerated loved ones write in and tell him how important their loved one means to them. The one that touches him most will get an all expense paid visit with their loved one for this Thanksgiving.
His album is far far far from perfect, and still has a lot of really problematic elements to it (i.e. “a pussy ass mufucka is the worst thing to be!”). However, I really respect his opinions on the system and the outlook on life that he expresses in the interview below. His thoughts are very honest, real, and intelligent, which you do not see out of a lot of mainstream artists today. The South has taken over mainstream hip hop, and although the airwaves are flooded with a lot of cliches and uninspired material, there’s still some really dope Southern artists that are trying to stand for something other than “make money by any means necessary.” Ya boy Plies is a refreshing reminder of this.